Practice Writing Well

As I’ve considered what I want to accomplish this year, I dug deeper into one of my goals to write more. Expressing your ideas clearly and succinctly is challenging, but to also express them well and in a way that readers will find interesting adds more difficulty. I love the challenge of reducing writing to the most efficient skeleton possible without a loss of meaning. I think you truly “get it right” when you can use fewer words, yet the meaning behind them becomes clearer as a result. I’m not very good at it yet, but it’s something that I think comes with a lot of practice.

Blogging and maintaining an online magazine help with this goal, but I often require far more words than are needed to make my point, and don’t always meet it anyway.

Regardless, the regular practice in writing and self-expression has been valuable, but there’s a ways to go. I think I struggle to write with my own voice at times and to be as efficient as possible in my writing. I also have a long history in writing scientifically (as a Chemistry major – who’d have thought?).

Sometimes I’m writing on a deadline and don’t have time to edit my work to my satisfaction, and technical writing doesn’t often lend itself to creating pristine prose. Aside from those excuses, I’ve also found that I like to leave most of my blogging unedited on this site so that I get a sense of growth as I go back and read older material.

So why knowing I’m not going to hit an “ideal” mark, why continue publishing? Because I want to commit to doing it better, which I think means setting aside more time to write and to become clearer within my writing. I really enjoy George Orwell’s thoughts on Politics and the English Language, which forced me to realize how often people (especially me) dilute the potency of the written word by being timid about what we’re trying to say, or intentionally obscuring our meaning to encourage acceptance of our views. I want to move closer to explicit and succinct writing.

As an aside, this exchange I had with someone who was upset about premium products we sell happened shortly after, which cracked me up. At one point, the reviewer says “…it is not a lie either” rather that just saying “It’s true,” because he’s loathe to use words that mean exactly what he wants to say and the original review is dead wrong. This is the sort of thing I want to avoid in my writing.

So what does this mean for the future? Writing fiction helps me practice being creative while shedding the scientific voice to which I default for factual writing, but can sometimes make me feel that I’m using a lot of words to say nothing at all (not to mention that I break far more grammar rules). I’ve been working on writing more short stories as a result, to practice both voice and brevity, so maybe you’ll see some of those appear on this blog as well smile